March 2018 Bulletin

Photo: Dominic Ali/CELA

Take Action!

Sign the Healthy Schools Day petition and rule out radon today!

Long-term radon exposure is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Child health advocates are calling for mandatory radon testing in schools and child care facilities across Canada. Fortunately, radon testing is easy and inexpensive and can make the difference in protecting the health of children and childcare workers. For Healthy Schools Day on April 3, 2018 please join Canadians in signing the online petition (en français) to make your voice heard.

News & Activities

Calling for an end to clothianidin and thiamethoxam

Along with several environmental organizations, CELA made a joint submission on the re-evaluations and proposed registration of the neonicotinoids clothianidin and thiamethoxam. The PMRA’s proposed strategies do not do enough to protect pollinator health. Our submission included 12 recommendations, among them: The PMRA should assess all relevant data and studies, immediately deregister clothianidin and thiamethoxam uses/products proposed for phase-out, and revise its risk assessment conclusions to recognize the overall risk to pollinators and phase out all outdoor uses.

Stopping toxic chemicals detected in children’s toys: end of life management of products and recycling role in prepetuating toxic chemicals in products

CELA researcher and paralegal Fe de Leon worked with HEJSupport International Co-Director Olga Speranskaya to bring public attention to toxic chemicals that appear in new products made out of recycled materials. Researchers have found that the circular economy fails to address concerns regarding toxic chemicals in products, including those intended for children. A 2017 study, for example, revealed elevated concentrations of globally targeted toxic flame retardants in plastic toys available in Canada and 25 other countries.

Protecting Canadians from triclosan

In a submission to the Ministers of Environment and Climate, and Health, CELA joined six other organizations to raise concerns about triclosan. The government’s triclosan assessment process ran from 2011 to 2016. We remain disappointed with the government’s final conclusions about triclosan’s risks to human health. Since 2012, we have made several recommendations to the federal government for stronger measures on triclosan. We called on the government to apply a regulatory approach to prohibit the use of triclosan in consumer and personal care products, mandate all retailers to address triclosan through their supply chain, and shorten the three-year timeframe proposed for implementation, and many others.

Strengthening proposed asbestos regulations

CELA and the Canadian Association of University Teachers were joined by more than 40 supporting organizations and individuals to provide recommendations that would strengthen the federal government’s proposed prohibition of asbestos regulations. Our 16 recommendations included amending the regulations to prevent stockpiling asbestos and asbestos-containing products, prohibiting the use of asbestos mining residue, avoiding exemptions and providing government support for the transition of the chlor-alkali industry to non-asbestos technology, banning the export of asbestos-containing materials, and developing a National Asbestos Strategy.

Photo: Márcio Cabral de Moura/Flickr

Protecting water for future generations

CELA partnered with the Ontario Environment Network and Ontario Headwaters Institute to provide 17 recommendations to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs on the proposed Protecting Water for Future Generations: Growing the Greenbelt in the Outer Ring. We recommended that the Province embark on a participatory process to create a comprehensive water strategy, use a systems approach to determine the areas of ecological and hydrological significance for potential Greenbelt expansion and ensure compliance with and enforcement of government initiatives to protect water for future generations, among others.

Comments from our WaterScape community discussions

Last month, CELA, the Ontario Environment Network and the Ontario Headwaters Institute held six public meetings and one webinar on the WaterScape initiative to inform communities about Ontario’s water protection policies. A compilation of comments received at the six meetings in Peel/Dufferin, Durham, Simcoe, Brant, Niagara and Peterborough is now available.

Ontario at Grand Bend Photo: Doc Searls/Flickr

CELA comments on new rules for new tribunal

Ontario's Bill 139 implements sweeping changes to Ontario's land use planning system, and fundamentally revises the appeal process for disputes involving official plans, zoning by-laws and subdivision plans. For example, the Ontario Municipal Board has been replaced by the new Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), which will decide these disputes after holding time-limited hearings that no longer allow parties to call or cross-examine witnesses. CELA has recently submitted comments on the proposed LPAT rules of practice that are scheduled to go into effect in April 2018.

In addition, Environment & Lands Tribunal Ontario has posted webinar materials about some of the changes. CELA has commenced our own public outreach and webinars to citizens groups since Ontario residents need to be aware of and prepared for these drastic changes to the province's land use oversight regime.

CELA client intervenes in landfill appeal

In late 2017, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change suspended a landfill approval issued over 20 years ago to a municipal proponent in eastern Ontario. However, the 1998 approval has been unused and the landfill site remains undeveloped, but the proponent now hopes to sell the property (and transfer its approval) to a private waste disposal company. The Ministry's suspension decision was appealed by the proponent to the Environmental Review Tribunal, and CELA's client group was recently granted party status in the Tribunal's forthcoming appeal hearing. The group also met with the Ontario Premier in Brockville to express concerns about the landfill location, design and management.

CELA and Lake Ontario Waterkeeper intervene in Divisional Court

The Divisional Court granted CELA and Lake Ontario Waterkeeper leave to intervene in a case involving the jurisdiction of the Director of the Environment Ministry to order corporate appellants to delineate contamination that has migrated to off-site properties. The case centres on the interpretation of s. 18 of the Environmental Protection Act (EPA). CELA’s factum, filed in Divisional Court, seeks to provide guidance on this issue by examining contaminated site legislation in other provinces that are similar to the EPA and international law principles. The case will be heard on May 23, 2018 in Divisional Court in Toronto.

Aurora Borealis over Canada (NASA, International Space Station, 01/25/12) Photo: NASA/Flickr

Update on federal EA reform

In February 2018, the federal government introduced Bill C-69. Among other things, this lengthy Bill proposes to repeal the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012, and enact the Impact Assessment Act in its place. After receiving Second Reading in the House of Commons, the Bill was recently referred to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development for public hearings in the coming weeks. CELA has requested to appear as a witness before the Committee to explain how and why the Impact Assessment Act must be substantially amended before it is passed by Parliament.

Consultation on class actions in Ontario

CELA has long advocated the use of class actions to obtain compensation in cases where environmentally harmful conduct has caused widespread loss, damage or injury to large numbers of people. However, it appears that Ontario's 25 year-old Class Proceedings Act (CPA) requires review and revision to enhance the availability of environmental class actions. For this reason, CELA welcomes a new consultation paper released by the Law Commission of Ontario that seeks public input on issues that have arisen under the CPA to date. Comments on the consultation paper are due by May 11, 2018.

Upcoming Events

Nuclear power plant hearings

The Pickering Nuclear Power Plant licensing renewal hearing will take place on April 4 and June 26-28, with comments due on May 7. The Bruce Power Plant's hearing will reconvene on May 30-31, and comments are due April 16.

Video

CELA’s Fe De Leon featured in Watermark Project

CELA paralegal and researcher Fe De Leon shared her thoughts about her favourite body of water with the Watermark Project in this 90-second online video.